Ways to Refinish Flashlights.

Marquis07

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Aug 27, 2022
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How do you refinish your lights? Once they get really beat up do you leave them as they are, or do you touch them up? What types of finishing do you find hold up the best?
 

LRJ88

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May 4, 2014
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652
I just leave them be if they get wear, it shows character. The finish itself I find not to be as important as the structure it's on, you can have really good finish but if it's on a lot of sharp edges and exposed points those will wear regardless unless you have a shelf queen.
 

Marquis07

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I have a Tc15 that was getting prety scratched up. Ordinarily that's fine, but I wanted it to look nice as I have it on my belt all the time, even at church. I started by taking the anodizing off with oven cleaner, except for the threads, so I could still lock it out. I figured it would look like dull aluminum, but it actually turned chalky white/silver and the colour was not uniform. I tried sanding the body, but there was no way to get in all the grooves. I ended up using a burr bit in the dremel, and I roughed up most of the outside, and sanded the rest of it smooth. As the final step, I sharpie markered the entire flashlight and then wiped it off. The sharpie filled in all the cracks, and made a nice contrast to the bare aluminum.

I don't love how it turned out, but I think it looks decent. I can scratch it up all I want now, and the scratches will blend in almost completely.

Should I ever do this again, what are your tips for the process? Maybe I should sandblast it instead?

Before and after pictures, the anodizing was much more scratched before I decided to remove it.
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HarryN

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Jan 22, 2004
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Pleasanton (Bay Area), CA, USA
Your light looks pretty good actually. I remember some photos of lights that I posted a long time ago and they looked fine in person, but on a big computer screen you could seen some very small dust specs and a minor blemish that I could barely see in person.

I am just a goof around / hobby picture taker (not a real photographer ) but I watch youtube videos by people who do it for a living. They spend a lot of time with editing software vs I spend nearly zero. ( just some minor cropping and compression to post them ).

_______________


There are a lot of grit levels of bead / sand blasting that can be used. It is easy to get carried away and use too aggressive of approach.

Some people use tumbling to clean / polish out stones, reloading brass and aluminum parts.

It is common to put tape over threads and critical areas to protect them from the surface re-shaping.

It isn't terribly difficult to set up a home type II anodizing setup. This will create a moderately durable surface that can be dyed. It is surprisingly sensitive to small details about the aluminum, surface treatment and skin oils in terms of consistency / blotchy results.

Type III hard anodizing is more complex to set up and definitely requires some practice. It involves cold H2SO4 baths and all that goes along with running electricity through them.

There are companies that offer this as a service - but you have to be willing to pay the minimum fee.

Getting things to look nice is the hardest part of any project / material for me. Even for wood finishes I am finding that the detailed instructions seem to be written to meet a code compliance as opposed to actually the best results.

_________

It might make sense to pick up a couple of broken / not very functional lights and experiment with finishing so that you get the results that you like.
 
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Marquis07

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There are a lot of grit levels of bead / sand blasting that can be used. It is easy to get carried away and use too aggressive of approach.

Some people use tumbling to clean / polish out stones, reloading brass and aluminum parts.
Sandblasting was my first idea, but we don't have one anymore, I bet it would look awesome as well as having extreme grip. Do you have any pics of lights you've done?

I wonder how well stonewashing would hide marks?


Love my TS10 that i sanded the anodizing off of
It looks very nice! I had the brass version and it was finished like that, just yellow. ;)



As an update, the finish I put on my light is holding up really well. The sharpie fades over time, but I can reapply that easily, and it makes the light look almost new. The scratches are hiding really well.
 
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